Topics: We are the champions of the twirl

Newcastle has claimed a second International Back to Back Wool Challenge after a frenzy of shearing, spinning and knitting at Tocal on Sunday.

The Newcastle Spinners and Weavers Guild squad, with Scone shearer Trevor Pike on the manual clippers, converted a sheep’s fleece into a jumper in six hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds, beating teams from the US and Canada. 

“We had a wonderful day, despite the weather, and raised quite a bit of money for cancer research, which is the name of the game,” Spinning Knitwits team member Christina Stewart told Topics.

Newcastle has competed in the challenge for almost 20 years and won the title in 2009.

Teams have a 12-month window to set a time, ending last weekend.

“The times are not given out at all, so we didn’t know until after we finished,” Christina said.   

What a load of rubbish

Yoga mats at Coffs Harbour.

Yoga mats at Coffs Harbour.

Further to previous Topics missives about the stuff washing up on beaches after the ironically named YM Efficiency lost 83 containers overboard 10 days ago, we can report that highly buoyant yoga mats have made the 280km journey from Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour.

The white mats washed ashore at Sawtell and Coffs last Friday, a week after being liberated by the Liberian-flagged cargo ship.

Another interesting item of flotsam were cans of Ocean Bomb, a Taiwanese Pokemon-themed range of sparkling soda water now living up to its name off the NSW coast.

Blueberry Ocean Bomb at Fingal Bay.

Blueberry Ocean Bomb at Fingal Bay.

News of the shore-bound cargo sent Topics scurrying to Google and the discovery that there is a whole sub-genre of “weird stuff that washes up on beaches” stories.

We were particularly taken by the basketball-sized ice balls that arrived on the shore of Lake Michigan in 2013 and a huge chunk of whale vomit (ambergris) which fetched $16,000 at auction due to its perfume-making qualities.

Of course, Nobbys beach wins the internet in this category after the 40,000-tonne bulk container ship Pasha Bulker washed up on the sand in 2007. 

Queen’s birthday blues

So why is the queen’s birthday weekend six weeks after her actual birthday?

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, but Commonwealth countries typically celebrate around the end of May or June, depending on royal proclamations or local laws.

Wikipedia tells us the timing is meant to “coincide with a higher probability of fine weather in the Northern Hemisphere for outdoor ceremonies”.

League fans enjoying the Queen's birthday weekend weather at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

League fans enjoying the Queen's birthday weekend weather at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

Well, someone needs to inform Her Majesty that in the Hunter the QBW almost invariably coincides with a flood of biblical proportions, highlighted by the Pasha Bulker storm 11 years ago.

Last weekend was not quite at that level, but it was still miserable.

Change the date.

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